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Thanks for the warning. I'm working on a project right now that I should be releasing soon to help with the "real project" problem.

This is another thing I'm afraid of - being overqualified/people thinking that they are actually my backup job. Is there any way to combat this?

Try to find a company full of like-minded people (maybe math/physics PhDs) and a job that is actually interesting to you. There will be no "overqualified" questions if interviewers understand you and your motivations well and you are enthusiastic about the job.

Experience is the best way to prove it though. If you have done well in a similar job no one will usually question your motivation.

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